Exploiting the Exploited: Gary Young’s Treatment of Native Americans and Somalis

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If you, like me, fell in love with Young Living for its holistic care and positive impact—I’m afraid you’re about to be blindsided by some uncomfortable documentation on Gary Young. I had the same experience last week while Googling Young Living’s founder and CEO. Yes, the truth was difficult to swallow, but it’s also empowering for us moms determined to find the most trustworthy products for our families.

Gary Young—in an attempt to add some legitimacy to his marketing materials—has blatantly exploited multiple cultures for his own gain. Recently, an online “truth-crusade” led by Native Americans and Somalis have exposed his unconscionable treatment of vulnerable populations.

For example, Gary Young has long published claims regarding a close mentorship with one of the Lakota Nation’s most prominent medicine men. Recently, however, a representative for the Lakota tribe, has devoted significant time and effort to publish the truth. Below are the nitty gritty details:

Gary Young claimed that he developed his controversial essential oil “Raindrop Therapy” in the 1980s after working with the Lakota Tribe’s influential Wallace Black Elk. However, according to a tribe representative, Raindrop Therapy had never been part of the Lakota’s healing process. The tribe’s representative further responded to Young’s marketing by emphasizing that Gary Young “never ‘worked with’ nor was he ever taught, endorsed, or recognized by Grandfather [Wallace Black Elk]. He has stained our beautiful Grandfather’s name and it has to stop...to to claim to have been directly taught or instructed by Grandfather is simply an untruth.” The representative was most sickened by Gary Young’s insistence that he was involved in Wallace Black Elk’s sacred work.

As if this charade weren’t alarming enough, Gary Young has also taken advantage of impoverished Somali natives. In 2014, a Somali leader Sultan Yusuf Salah, struggled to redress false marketing/newsletter materials promoting his “relationship” with Gary Young. Sultan has sent multiple emails to Young Living asking them to remove his name from Gary Young’s “propaganda.”

In fact, Yusuf describes how Gary Young misrepresented himself as a “philanthropist and doctor,” showed up unannounced in his country, and obtained nine days of unpaid tribal service all while promising to pay for schools and hospital. However, two years later, Gary Young has yet to make good on his word. It turns out the trip was merely for publicity’s sake. In order to justify the hefty cost of frankincense oil, Greg Young spent a large part of the trip gathering photos for a four part-series for the Young Living newsletter about the process of collecting the oil in a foreign company. In the series, Gary Young portrays Sultan Yusuf as his friend and protector. But the Sultan says such depictions could not be further from the truth.

When Sultan Yusuf, discovered the depraved publicity being used in the Young Living newsletter he contacted both Gary and his company urging them to be honest about their real experience in Somalia. Young Living responded by claiming “defamation” and encouraging YouTube to remove a video that Yusuf posted clarifying the real events of Gary Young’s trip.

Ultimately, Gary Young’s glib willingness to exploit vulnerable populations is appalling. Ugh, need I say more?

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