The Dawes Rolls (or Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, or Dawes Commission of Final Rolls) were created by the Dawes Commission. In 1887 the Federal government embarked on the policy of extinguishing tribal title to land and allotting it to individual Indians. The Commission went to the individual tribes to obtain the membership lists but the first attempts were inadequate. Finally Congress passed the Curtis Act in 1898 which had a provision that a new roll would be taken and supersede all previous rolls. This "final roll" contains the names of more than 101,000 people who were eligible for tribal membership and thus entitled to an allotment of land. The Dawes rolls only include people who were alive during the 1898-1907 enrollment period.
Tribal citizens were enrolled under several categories:
Citizen by Blood
New Born Citizen by Blood
Minor Citizens by Blood
Citizen by Marriage
Freedmen (former black slaves of Indians)
New Born Freedmen
Delaware Indians (those adopted by the Cherokee tribe were enrolled as a separate group within the Cherokee)
The Dawes Commission was quickly flooded by applicants from all over the country trying to get on the rolls. More than 250,000 people applied for membership. An act of Congress on April 26, 1906, closed the rolls on March 5, 1907. An additional 312 persons were enrolled under an act approved August 1, 1914.
NOTE: In the example above (page 5 link in the Dawes menu to the left) it tell us other rolls the family members are on as well as other names they are listed under. In this case Sam Blackfox is listed on the 1880 roll as "Tar-ga-na-sini Blackfox" and wife Lucy as "Lucy Snail". It also mentions they are on the 1806 roll. Another reason why locating the actual document is so important as opposed to simply checking a list of people on a particular roll.