Liver diseases, such as hepatitis C virus (HCV), are “broken spirit” diseases. The prevalence of HCV infection for American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) in the United States and Canadian Aboriginals varies; nonetheless, incidence rates of newly diagnosed HCV infection are typically higher relative to non-indigenous people. For AI/AN and Aboriginal peoples risk factors for the diagnosis of HCV can reflect that of the general population: predominately male, a history of injection drug use, in midlife years, with a connection with urban centers. However, the face of the indigenous HCV infected individual is becoming increasingly female and younger compared to non-indigenous counterparts. Epidemiology studies indicate that more effective clearance of acute HCV infection can occur for select Aboriginal populations, a phenomenon which may be linked to unique immune characteristics. For individuals progressing to chronic HCV infection treatment outcomes are comparable to other racial cohorts. Disease progression, however, is propelled by elevated rates of co-morbidities including type 2 diabetes and alcohol use, along with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
co-infection relative to non-indigenous patients. Historical and personal trauma has a major role in the participation of high risk behaviors and associated diseases. Although emerging treatments provide hope, combating HCV related morbidity and mortality will require interventions that address the etiology of broken spirit diseases.